New report sees Alliance to End Plastic Waste as ‘sophisticated green laundering’

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Planet Tracker, a nonprofit financial think tank, has called the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) a “sophisticated greenwash” in a new report criticizing the organization’s commitment to ending plastic waste. plastic pollution.

Alliance to end plastic waste: barely credible, published today, suggests the Alliance has failed to achieve “negligible goals”, as its members continue to support plastic production elsewhere. Additionally, he defines his performance as “greencrowding” – hiding in the group and moving at the speed of the slowest adopter.

Membership Review

The report highlights that most of AEPW’s 65 member organizations are also members of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), which lobbied against the establishment of a negotiating framework for the Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution.

The two organizations have similar observable approaches to plastic waste, with the think tank highlighting the 92% of AEPW members who did not publicly support the companies’ declaration for a legally binding UN treaty on pollution. plastic.

Additionally, as eight of the top 20 single-use plastic waste manufacturers are members of AEPW, both AEPW and ACC view plastic pollution as a downstream issue, focusing on recycling and recovery in their solutions. offered, rather than on the supply of plastics.

“Negligible targets”

While defining AEPW’s recycling target as “negligible” in relation to the current global plastics problem, the report demonstrates that the Alliance is still falling short of this target.

With the OECD measuring 353 Mt of global plastic waste in 2019, the Alliance has committed to recycling just nine Mt of plastic in its first three years, of which 0.04% (four Kt) was achieved, according to its Progress 2021 report.

While new members continue to join the AEPW, its retraining goals have failed to keep pace with the size and financial weight of its members. Its waste targets per member, on the other hand, have decreased by 56% in three years.

“Inappropriate” financial commitments

As the report deems AEPW’s investments to be “weak”, there appear to be further misalignments among the Alliance’s broader financial commitments.

For example, AEPW has so far spent 40% of its $1 billion minimum commitment to reduce plastic waste, while it has only achieved 0.04% of its recycling target. This highlights a mismatch between the target volume of waste and the funding available. Based on this, Planet Tracker states that a significant increase in funding is needed to achieve the organization’s goals.

However, this is apparently not available, as an increase in membership did not lead to an increase in AEPW funding, but rather led to a drop in contribution per member of 56% over three years.

Recommendations

In light of these observations, Planet Tracker offered five recommendations to AEPW to ensure its future credibility.

The body recommends that the Alliance sets meaningful targets for the disposal and recovery of plastic waste, which take into account the scale of the global problem of plastic waste. This is compared to their current target, which is only 2.5% of global plastic waste measured in 2019.

AEPW should also set bold investment targets for its members to support meaningful plastic waste solutions, rather than diverting cash flow to continued facility expansion.

Despite the continued production of plastics among AEPW members, the think tank proposes that the Alliance recognize the production of virgin plastic as an important part of the plastic pollution problem it claims to be fighting.

The body further urges the organization to produce “transparent, measurable and audited progress reports”, so that Alliance leaders can be held accountable, especially when it comes to missing key targets. .

Finally, members, strategic partners and supporters of the Alliance are recommended to consider their exposure to the reputational risk caused by their affiliation to the organization.

“Global companies hide behind an attractive title”

Concluding its report, the think tank says: “The number of projects may be eye-catching, but collectively they have barely made a dent in the disposal and recycling of global plastic. The Alliance acknowledges that “plastic waste needs to be addressed across the entire plastics value chain”, but this is a nod to the diversity of its membership, not an attempt to fight against plastic pollution. »

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